Thursday, June 21, 2007

AFI's Top 100 & The BCS

On Wednesday, the American Film Institute unveiled its 2007 list of the top 100 American movies of all time. The current list was an update to one released by AFI in 1998. As is the case with college football, the honor of being #1 was decided by voters, and the films won’t be participating in a playoff anytime soon.

However, perhaps the AFI rankings could be used to set up BCS-style matchups between the top movies. Here were the BCS showdowns last year, with the BCS ranking of each participant:

Rose Bowl: #3 (Michigan) vs. #5 (USC)
Fiesta Bowl: #8 (Boise State) vs. #10 (Oklahoma)
Orange Bowl: #6 (Louisville) vs. #14 (Wake Forest)
Sugar Bowl: #4 (LSU) vs. #11 (Notre Dame)
BCS Championship Game: #1 (Ohio State) vs. #2 (Florida)

For the AFI matchups, we’ll simply substitute the equivalently ranked films in place of the above teams. Here’s a forecast of how these showdowns would turn out:

Rose Bowl: #3 (Casablanca) vs. #5 (Singin’ in the Rain). Casablanca was ranked #2 in the 1998 poll, so it has to be furious over being excluded from the matchup of #1 vs. #2. So like Michigan last January 1, it won’t have the necessary focus against a formidable opponent. Like USC, Singin’ in the Rain takes place in LA and features stars with amazing footwork. Rick and Ilsa may always have Paris, but they’ll want to forget Pasadena. The Pick: Singin’ in the Rain

Fiesta Bowl: #8 (Schindler’s List) vs. #10 (The Wizard of Oz).
Both these opponents defy the conventional wisdom: the color movie is from 1939, while the 1993 film is in black and white. But you have to favor Schindler’s List here. “Powerful” is the word most often used for it. As for The Wizard of Oz, not only is the Fiesta Bowl not in Kansas, but the playing surface at the University of Phoenix Stadium contains no yellow bricks. Plus, a bowl game is no place for munchkins – or for Lions. The Pick: Schindler’s List

Orange Bowl: #6 (Gone With the Wind) vs. #14 (Psycho).
It’s Vivian Leigh vs. Janet Leigh! As a southeastern powerhouse, Gone With the Wind should thrive in a bowl environment. And with this showdown taking place in Florida, it surely will have plenty of fan support. Psycho is lucky to be here, since it’s not even the highest-rated Hitchcock film on the list (Vertigo is #9). So Gone With the Wind will cruise, although afterwards it might get stabbed in the shower. The Pick: Gone With the Wind

Sugar Bowl: #4 (Raging Bull) vs. #11 (City Lights).
City Lights faces many of the same issues as Notre Dame in last year’s Sugar Bowl. The 1931 Charlie Chaplin film was #76 in the 1998 poll, so there are serious questions about whether it truly belongs here. Also, as a silent film made in the age of sound, it’s desperately holding onto the past. On the other hand, Raging Bull is the top-rated sports movie of all-time, so it should relish the competitive environment. Also, its themes of violence and massive weight gain will be right at home in New Orleans. The Pick: Raging Bull

AFI Championship Game: #1 (Citizen Kane) vs. #2 (The Godfather).
Citizen Kane is the clear favorite here. However, #2 usually takes down #1 in the BCS, and the same will happen here. The USC-Texas classic, in particular, provides a guide. Citizen Kane is a defending champion, having also been #1 in the 1998 survey. It ends with Rosebud going up in flames, just as USC’s dynasty went up in flames at the Rose Bowl. Whether it’s Vince Young or the Corleones, the winners will be masters of the shotgun. The Pick: The Godfather

Chances are, these matchups will never take place. But if they do, the AFI winners will be just like their BCS counterparts. They’ll look great in the film room.